Film rated PG for “Christian Content”, says congressman

Blunt weighs in on movie’s PG rating

Filmmakers regularly gripe that the movie-ratings system is arbitrary and unfair, but it’s uncommon for a lawmaker to entangle himself in the process.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) did that, however, just last week that by weighing in on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decision to rate a film about a football team at a Christian high school as PG instead of G.

Franklin, Tenn.-based Provident Films declared in a press release last month that its picture, “Facing the Giants,” was “rated PG for explicit Christian content.” Tiny Provident produced the film, which is slated for a September theatrical release and is being distributed by Destination Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films, a unit of Sony Pictures.

It’d be hilarious if it were true. (Personally I’d give movies with a message of religious indoctrination at least an R rating, but that’s me). Unfortunately though, it’s a pure bullshit statement by the congressman:

The MPAA rejects the allegation that the movie’s Christian content is the reason the ratings board decided on PG and says the filmmakers have accepted the board’s ruling.

Clearly, Congressman Blunt is at best confused and at worst a liar. I’m gonna go with the latter, given this statement:

“This incident raises the disquieting possibility that MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and mindless violence,” Blunt wrote. “I am sure many of my colleagues share my concern.”

And the story moves from kind of funny and offbeat to deadly scary when you get to here:

Congress has taken an aggressive step this year to increase government oversight of decency in popular entertainment by passing the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act. Blunt sent his letter to the MPAA on the same day that President Bush signed the decency bill, which increases the fines that the Federal Communications Commission can levy on broadcasters.

The guy knew damn well the movie wasn’t rated PG for being too Christian. His statement was a calculated one precisely to rile social conservatives, probably to get out the vote in November. The question is, how far is Congress willing to take it? They’re already exerting tighter control over free speech via the FCC, with the passage of the BDEA last week. The worst case scenario is that they’re laying the groundwork for future legislation involving federal oversight of motion pictures, or that the religious right gets so wound up they start demanding such a thing. Which is frightening as hell, because in the current climate the idea isn’t unimaginable.

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